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Swan Song

© 2012-2013 American Broadcasting Companies, Inc.

Basic Details[edit]

Season 5, Episode 7 (88)

Original Air Date - November 12, 2012


When Castle, Beckett, and their team are called upon to investigate the death of a member of an up-and-coming rock band, they unwittingly become part of a documentary being filmed around the band's rise.

Episode Images[edit]

© 2012-2013 American Broadcasting Companies, Inc.
© 2012-2013 American Broadcasting Companies, Inc.
© 2012-2013 American Broadcasting Companies, Inc.
© 2012-2013 American Broadcasting Companies, Inc.
© 2012-2013 American Broadcasting Companies, Inc.
© 2012-2013 American Broadcasting Companies, Inc.
© 2012-2013 American Broadcasting Companies, Inc.
© 2012-2013 American Broadcasting Companies, Inc.
© 2012-2013 American Broadcasting Companies, Inc.
© 2012-2013 American Broadcasting Companies, Inc.
© 2012-2013 American Broadcasting Companies, Inc.
© 2012-2013 American Broadcasting Companies, Inc.
© 2012-2013 American Broadcasting Companies, Inc.
© 2012-2013 American Broadcasting Companies, Inc.
© 2012-2013 American Broadcasting Companies, Inc.
© 2012-2013 American Broadcasting Companies, Inc.
© 2012-2013 American Broadcasting Companies, Inc.
© 2012-2013 American Broadcasting Companies, Inc.
© 2012-2013 American Broadcasting Companies, Inc.
© 2012-2013 American Broadcasting Companies, Inc.


Main Cast[edit]

Guest Cast[edit]

  • Andrew J. West - Keith Blue
  • C. Thomas Howell - John Campbell
  • Daniel Roebuck - Joe Silva
  • Nick Thurston - Buck Cooper
  • Chris Coy - Zeke
  • Amir Talai - Sam Spear
  • Kristen Miller - Caroline
  • Max Arcinega - Billy Bash
  • Brian Maillard - Joel Mitas
  • Sarah Scott - Butterfly
  • Hunter Jackson - James Swan
  • Lydia Hull - Front Desk Clerk
  • Brian Kong - Uniform Officer




Capt. Gates: (to camera) Hi. Welcome. I’m Captain Gates, head of the 12th precinct. In cooperation with the NYPD’s public affairs division, I am happy to grant you full access to the department. I think you will find everyone here more than accommodating.
Esposito: (to camera, reluctantly) Welcome.
Ryan: (to camera) Welcome.

Beckett: Just because they want to invade my privacy, doesn’t mean that I have to help them do it.
Castle: Ok, that may be, but these cameras, they’re not going anywhere. They’re gonna see something. I just want them to see what I see.

Esposito: (dramatically) We’ve got you now, you sonuvabitch. (To the camera) I’m sorry, can I even say son of a-

© 2012-2013 American Broadcasting Companies, Inc.

Ryan: I know how this might look, but we actually make a pretty good team because we each have different strengths.
Esposito: It’s true. For example, I’m former military which makes me an expert marksman. I’m usually first through the door.
Ryan: Well yeah, but somebody’s gotta know which door to go through. I’m a little bit more…circumspect than my partner here. I’m kinda like the nerve center of the team.
Esposito: I’m definitely the physical one. I stay in sick shape. (Flexes an arm for the camera) Boom! Have you been to the gun show? Just kidding, just kidding. I’m in sick shape.
Ryan: What’s with your shirt? It’s really tight. Did you change it?
Esposito: I spilled something on it.

Ryan: (upon finding a blood-stained shirt) Pretty sure that ain’t ketchup.

Beckett: So, uh, we like this guy?
Ryan: We found blood-stained overalls in his van. We sent them to be tested, see if they match the blood from our vic.
Esposito: Oh, they match. Trust me, bro. We won’t have to worry about this creep hurting anybody ever again. (To the camera) That’s a gift from me to you. You’re welcome, America.

Castle: (to the camera) The time out. That’s a classic. Interrogation, it’s really an art form. I mean, Detective Beckett, she is a master. I have watched her crack countless cases in this very room. Remember that guy who killed his gardener because he cut his roses too short?
Beckett: (reluctantly) Hm-mm.

Esposito: At least grabbing the guy wasn’t a total bust.
Ryan: I don’t know, it seems to be the definition of a total bust.

Beckett: Lanie’s got something she wants us to see.
Castle: (to the camera) Lanie? Who is Lanie?
Beckett: Uh, Lanie is our medical examiner and she works at the morgue and she’s got information that she wants us to see and we are keeping her waiting.
Ryan: Still a little stiff.
Castle: Certainly she can tighten that up, but she’s getting better.

Beckett: What else?
Lanie: Isn’t that enough?
Beckett: Lanie, usually if you have something like this for me you just call me over the phone.
Lanie: Well, I thought it was worth the trip. (Poses seductively for the camera)

Esposito: Time to pay this guy a visit. (Ryan picks up his keys, but Esposito takes them from him). No, no, no, no. I got this. You stay here and work on your little research project, you being the nerve center and all.

Esposito: Castle, keep your voice down please. I already had one guy bolt on me today. Element of surprise is key. Now, I can be circumspect. Folks would be lost without me.
Castle: (whispers) He went the wrong way.

© 2012-2013 American Broadcasting Companies, Inc.

Esposito: I do like the vocal line on this.
Castle: You read music?
Esposito: What do you think? Because I’m a cop I can’t sing?
Castle: No, I think you can’t sing because I’ve heard you sing.
Esposito: That karaoke machine was busted. (To the camera) I’m gonna sing for ya’ll later.

Castle: He wasn’t about to stay and they weren’t about to let him play George Michael to their Andrew Ridgely.
Esposito: Andrew who?
Castle: Exactly. So they pick up a guitar and wham!

Castle: Actually, why don’t you talk to Keith yourself?
Beckett: Why?
Castle: Because I want to give you room to operate and strut your stuff. You got this.

Castle: Well they were together, all right.
Esposito: Tommy Lee’s got nothing on this guy.
Capt. Gates: (to the camera) I like to check on the case every once in a while. No point in chaining myself to that desk when all the action is right out here.
Esposito: You want action, check this. (Shows her a video of their suspect having sex)
Capt. Gates: Hey, hey, hey. This is inappropriate workplace behavior.
Esposito: This is evidence, Sir. Our suspect’s alibi hinges on this.
Capt. Gates: Oh. (Looks closer at video) Oh…

Capt. Gates: I hope you’re not going by the time stamp on this video. (To the camera) That can be faked, you know.
Beckett: That’s not the only thing on this video being faked.

Capt. Gates: Good job, everyone. Keep it up.
Castle: (to Esposito) No. Too easy.

© 2012-2013 American Broadcasting Companies, Inc.

Castle: So John Campbell was in town with a few days to kill. (to the camera) See what I did there? That was good. Use that. Don’t use the part where I said ‘See what I did there.’ Cut that out. Do a hard fade to black. Music will stay in. (Imitates electric guitar sound)

Capt. Gates: Listen up, everyone. I just wanted to commend all of you on a job well done, (to the camera) as I always do at the end of every case.
Castle: (to the camera) It’s what makes catching the killer worthwhile which is strange, because you’d think it would be catching the killer, but, no, it’s…


  • This episode was filmed as episode 4
  • This is the first episode shot in documentary-style where the cast interacts with the camera.
  • In this episode, an electric guitar was used to play the opening theme to highlight the rock 'n roll connection.

Featured Music[edit]

  • Without You and Wait for You performed by Derek Evry
  • Back Out on the Road Again performed by Holy Shemp

Full Episode Recap[edit]

A camera crew films the rock band Holy Shemp rehearsing when one of the members reads a review of a recent show, where they are called “the next Nirvana.” They cheer in excitement and one member heads for the band leader, James Swan’s trailer to tell him. Upon entering, he finds James dead.

Detectives Kate Beckett, Kevin Ryan, and Javier Esposito arrive at the scene and Beckett immediately tells Ryan to get rid of the cameras. He tried to do so, but a roadie, Hank Rogers, says they are merely shooting a documentary about the band. Ryan relents and begins taking Hank’s statement.

© 2012-2013 American Broadcasting Companies, Inc.

In the trailer, Beckett is dismayed to find cameras filming Medical Examiner Lanie Parish as well. Beckett tells an angered Esposito to find the director to get rid of the crew. Richard Castle enters with his and Beckett’s usual coffees and immediately notices the cameras. After Lanie explains what they’re doing, he takes the opportunity to plug Frozen Heat and to introduce Beckett as his muse. Lanie gives Beckett James’ name and estimates the time of death as being between midnight and 2.a.m. Castle then notices the word “observe” tattooed on James’ arm and Beckett identifies a bloodied guitar laying nearby as the murder weapon.

Outside, Hank explains to Ryan that after the previous night’s show, he tuned James’ guitar then left it in his trailer around 11:30 p.m. He didn’t see anyone acting suspiciously except for a white van that circled the block a few times.

Esposito finds the director backstage, orders him to get rid of the film crew and to turn over any footage he may have caught of the murder, but the director begs him to reconsider. As Esposito reminds him that someone is dead, the director’s cell phone rings and he hands it over to Esposito.

Back in James’ trailer, Castle guesses James was killed during a heated argument and muses over how he is the latest in a long history of young musicians to die. When everyone hears a rattling coming from a closet, Beckett pulls her gun, shoos the cameras out of her way and opens the door to find a scantily clad young woman inside.

Later, the woman, going by the name Butterfly, explains that she followed the band for six months before she finally met James and they began a relationship. When asked about the night before, she claims not to remember much, except hearing what sounded like a crunching coming from inside the trailer. She adds that in the days before, James had been complaining about the other band members a lot, but on the night he died, he seemed happy.

Later still, Beckett doubts Butterfly is strong enough to swing a guitar with enough force to kill, but will check her clothes for blood spatter. She then notices the cameras and orders them to leave, but Esposito and the director enter and present her with a piece of paper.

© 2012-2013 American Broadcasting Companies, Inc.

Back at the precinct, Beckett argues her case against the crew following her to Captain Victoria Gates, but she is unmoved since City Hall thinks it would be good publicity for the NYPD. Gates exits her office and, speaking into the camera, welcomes them to the precinct and promises total cooperation from her cops. Beckett fumes behind her and Ryan and Esposito reluctantly welcome the camera as well.

Later in the break room, Beckett vents to Castle who tries to reassure her that everything will be fine. He tells her that she shouldn’t worry about her privacy being invaded and that he merely wants the crew to see what he sees when she works.

Beckett and Castle interview the other band members, who confirm that there was tension between them, but that they looked out for James. As their alibis, all say they were in their trailers after the show. They don’t recall a white van being in the area, but do remember that, starting with a show they did in Ithaca, James said he felt like he was being followed and began acting paranoid. Additionally, the day before he died, James skipped a regular band meeting, which he never missed, and he ditched the cameraman who was following him. Esposito interrupts and pulls Beckett and Castle outside.

In the conference room, he shows them video of an interview James a month earlier. In the background can be seen a large, older man who seemed to be stalking the band and in one shot, can be seen leaning against a white van. Esposito dramatically proclaims that they caught the sonuvabitch then asks the camera if he can curse.

Later on, the camera films Ryan as he drives with Esposito to the address of the owner of the white van. They bicker briefly over directions then Ryan tells them he and Esposito really do get along and that their skills complement each other. Esposito describes that since he’s former military and an expert marksman, he’s usually first through the door, but Ryan interrupts calling himself the nerve center of the team. Esposito agrees he’s the more physical of the two and flexes an arm to prove it. Ryan then asks him if he changed into a tighter shirt and Esposito claims he spilled something on the other one.

Arriving at the address, their man takes off running and Esposito confidently gives chase, eventually taking the man down. Meanwhile Ryan inspects the white van and finds what looks to be bloody overalls inside.

Back at the precinct, Esposito promises to tear the guy apart in interrogation. Ryan explains to Beckett about the overalls and Esposito reassures America that he’s just taken another bad guy off the streets.

In the observation room, Castle and Beckett watch Ryan and Esposito interrogate their suspect. Inside, the man explains that he cut himself working on his van, but Esposito pushes and the man admits to following the band and wanting to scare James, all out of a desire to get his daughter back. To everyone’s surprise, he describes how his daughter ran away to follow the band and that she goes by the name Butterfly.

That evening Ryan reports to Beckett and Castle that the blood on the overalls was not James’. Ryan teases Esposito about his “bust”, but Esposito corrects him by reporting that the man saw where James went after he ditched his cameraman: to a bank and then to a residential building. Ryan guesses James was into drugs, but Beckett discounts the idea as speculation, so Castle spins a more fantastic one. After everyone rolls their eyes, Esposito says he’ll pull a list of tenants of the building. Beckett then finds a message on her cell phone from Lanie, who Castle makes Beckett identify for the camera, much to Beckett’s embarrassment.

In the morgue, Lanie, now dressed in a more form-fitting and lower-cut top, ruins Ryan’s drug theory by saying James’ blood reveals clean living and the absence of all standard vaccines he should have gotten as a child. When Lanie poses for the camera, Beckett asks her why she couldn’t just call her with this information, but Lanie strikes another pose and says she thought the trip was worth it.

Back at the precinct, Beckett tells Ryan to find out why James was never vaccinated. Esposito joins them and reports that James visited a Sam Spear who had filed a law suit against the band, claiming they stole one of his songs and that on the way there James withdrew $25,000 from the bank. Ryan grabs his coat to join Esposito in visiting Spear, but he holds him back telling him to work on James’ medical records.

As Castle and Esposito search for Spear’s unit, Castle tells the camera how Beckett isn’t a bad person, but that she just has walls that one must break through. Esposito tells him to keep his voice down so he doesn’t have another suspect bolt on him. Just then, both hear gunshots and screaming coming from a nearby unit. Esposito pulls his gun and finds the noise coming from Spear’s unit. He bursts inside and finds Spear at work on a movie score. Spear claims that he and James settled the dispute over the song and that he has no idea about the $25,000. He goes on to say that James wanted him to write songs for him and hands over a rough draft of one. Esposito says he likes the vocal line, but Castle doubts his vocal abilities. Castle and Esposito now believe that James wanted to go solo, and one of the band members found out, and killed James to stop him from breaking up the band.

The next day, Castle and Beckett interrupt another band rehearsal and accuse Keith, one of the band’s singers, with knowing James wanted to go solo since a girlfriend of his at a record company told them she had agreed to a meeting with James about possibly leaving the band. Keith angrily disputes the charges and storms out of the hall. As he leaves, Castle and Beckett notices his footfalls sound like the crunching Butterfly had described.

© 2012-2013 American Broadcasting Companies, Inc.

At the precinct, Beckett goes over her strategy for interrogating Keith, but Castle tells her to go solo so she can “strut her stuff.” She agrees and enters the interrogation room. Keith denies killing James, but Beckett tells him she has a witness who places him in James’ trailer at the time he died. Keith admits he confronted James about his leaving the band and he denied the rumor, saying instead he was working on something that would benefit the whole band. He goes on to say that James hadn’t been the same since their Ithaca show and says he went to his trailer to be with a girl after talking to James. He doesn’t remember the girl’s name, but knows he can prove it.

Later on, Castle and Esposito review hidden camera footage of Keith having sex with the girl. Gates joins them, telling the camera that she likes to check on the case periodically and be a part of the action. Esposito shows her the video and while she calls viewing it inappropriate, she continues to watch. She points out that the time stamp could have been faked, but Esposito says he matched it to video of the news playing in the background. Gates congratulates them on their work and heads back to her office.

Ryan comes over, saying that he found no records of James Swan at all until he was hospitalized at age 17 after being in an accident in Ithaca, where he is from. Ryan shows them the hospital record which lists James’ address as being that of a cult’s compound. Ryan says this explains why James had no vaccinations and that all cult members had to tattoo the word “serve” on their arms as an agreement of obedience. Castle remembers the tattoo on James’ arm and says he must have added the letters “o” and “b” after he escaped. They all guess that when the band played in Ithaca, someone must have recognized James and Ryan says James had reason to worry since the cult leader, John Campbell, has a violent past. Ryan also notes that Campbell was in town at the time James died, leading Castle to proclaim for the camera that Campbell “had a few days to kill.”

Later on, Ryan and Esposito tell Gates that while they have Campbell’s photo out to all patrol cars, he typically uses an alias when he travels to keep clear of the DEA, who is watching him because the property owned by his cult includes a pot farm. They haven’t been able to shut him down because he claims he is a church and entitled to freedom of religious expression.

© 2012-2013 American Broadcasting Companies, Inc.

In the conference room, Beckett ends a call on her cell phone and Castle lovingly strokes her cheek. She covers his hand with hers then gets serious when she sees the camera filming them. She angrily heads to Esposito’s desk and says anti-cult organization promised to put her in touch with a former member who can shed more light on Campbell’s cult.

Later on, Beckett and Castle talk to Caroline, a former cult member, who says Campbell promised her enlightenment then ruined her life. She says Campbell felt betrayed when James escaped and swore revenge. Ryan interrupts and says a hotel manager told him that James visited Campbell in his hotel the day he was murdered. Caroline says Campbell must have killed him even though James likely bought his freedom when he visited him. She tells them he might be found at a youth hostel where he recruits.

At the hostel, Beckett and Castle find Campbell, who says he was alone in his hotel room meditating at the time James was killed. They confront with their knowledge of the $25,000, but Campbell refuses to discuss what he calls private matters of his church. Campbell denies knowing James was in Ithaca and becomes infuriated when Beckett persists in spinning her theory that he killed James out of revenge for his escape. Campbell ends the interview, promising to sue the department if they contact him again.

In Gates’ office, Beckett and Castle update her on their interview, saying they strongly suspect Campbell is their killer. Gates takes a brief phone call then explains that she is having all the footage sent over to her for her review so she can be sure her officers’ conduct meets her high standards. Castle and Beckett now become worried that she will discover their earlier intimate moment, but keep it to themselves. Later on, the camera catches both of them having an animated conversation with the film’s director in the conference room.

Esposito hangs up from a phone call and says he found the missing piece of their case. He and Ryan argue over who should tell Beckett, giving each other credit for solving the case, when Beckett and Castle join them, looking more relaxed than earlier. They both explain that the day after James’ band appeared in Ithaca, Campbell filed a missing person’s report on Buck Cooper and according to Caroline, Buck was James’ best friend from when they were both in the cult. Castle theorizes that James was nervous because he had broken Buck out and that the $25,000 wasn’t for him, but for Buck. Esposito pulls up Buck’s photo and Ryan recognizes him as the roadie, Hank Rogers.

In the conference room, Buck says he knows Campbell didn’t kill James because he was with Campbell, getting his assurance that he’d leave him and James alone, when James was killed. He says the night he died that all James told him was that he’d make things right for him, but he didn’t know what more he could have done for him. When Buck says he taught James to play the guitar, a thought strikes Castle.

In the conference room, Castle replays for Beckett an interview of James’ where he talks about his mentor and how they lost touch. Later, Castle briefs Beckett, Ryan, and Esposito on this theory that after that interview, James decided to break Buck out of the cult and bring him into the band, which is the change in direction he had been talking about. They all know now that whoever James wanted to replace with Buck is their killer. Castle then asks Esposito for the song that Sam Spear had written for the band. He reads it and knows who their killer is.

In an interrogation room, the band’s guitarist, Zeke, reads the song and promises that he can play it. Castle gives him his bass guitar and tells him to do so, but Zeke confesses he can’t. Beckett then shows him a dry cleaning tag they found in his trailer and that they found traces of James’ blood on the clothes he had tried to clean. Zeke confesses that he didn’t mean to kill James once he had told him he was kicking him out of the band, but that he just lost his temper.

That evening, Buck thanks Castle and Beckett for solving James’ murder. Castle gives him the song Sam had written then Keith joins them and invites Buck to try out for Zeke’s spot in the band. Buck agrees then Gates announces that she is proud of everyone for solving the case. Beckett asks about the footage she said she was reviewing and Gates orders her and Castle into her office.

© 2012-2013 American Broadcasting Companies, Inc.

Once inside, Gates plays a clip the editor put together of Gates talking in the foreground to the camera and Castle and Beckett making faces at her in the background. Gates accuses them of trying to embarrass her, but Beckett asks if that’s the only footage she is upset about. Gates asks if there is something else on a tape which the director says went missing, and both promise her there is nothing else to worry about. Before she can go further, she hears music from outside and leaves to see what is going on. When she is gone, Beckett silently thanks the cameraman and high-fives Castle.

They all find Keith and Buck jamming with Esposito, who is singing the song Sam wrote while Ryan listens. Castle and Beckett exchange smiles and then Beckett motions for the cameraman to follow her. She tells the camera that she knows she isn’t the easiest person to get to know, but since they put up with her, she wants to show them a secret space where she likes to go and that will give them a clue as to who she is. She direct them into a janitorial closet then sticks hr tongue out and slams the door in the cameraman’s face.


  • Victim: Jim Swan, leader of an upcoming rock band
    • Cause of Death: Struck in the head repeatedly with his guitar
  • Perp: Zeke, the band's bass player
    • Motive: Revenge: Jim wanted to replace him in the band with his childhood friend

Episode Analysis[edit]


The Graveyard Shift
Screen Crave
TV Fanatic
TV Equals
Scripting Life
12th Precinct

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